All You Have to do is Just Show Up!

By: Andy Ah Po

A few years ago, I was privileged to attend the All Tang Soo Do International Championship (which was held in Harford Connecticut) as a guest of Grandmaster Charles Ferraro and the Mi Guk Kwan Association, Inc. I have participated in this event many times over the years and always look forward to attending. As is customary because I am his current instructor, Grandmaster Ferraro asked me to make a few comments at the opening ceremony. That year (2007), I selected a theme for my speech which I entitled, "All You Have To Do Is Just Show Up!" The purpose of this article is to restate some of the remarks and comments that I made during that impromptu speech for those that were not in attendance and also to explain why I chose this particular title and theme for my speech.

First of all, I think it is important for me to explain why I made the statement earlier in this article that I "was again privileged to attend" this event. As some of you may be aware, throughout my many years of involvement in the martial arts, I have on many occasions organized, coordinated, sponsored and hosted many similar events for a number of martial arts organizations. Therefore, I have a tremendous amount of respect and appreciation for all of the planning, hard work, creativity, coordination as well as the negotiation and organizational skills that are required to sponsor and host an event of this magnitude. And, you know when everything has been properly planned and professionally organized when, "all you have to do is just show up" to be "privileged" enough to be a beneficiary of such a successful, rewarding and memorable event and experience.

After this tournament, I recommended that in the future Grandmaster Ferraro consider renaming this event as something along the line of the Mi Guk Kwan's "Annual Tang Soo Do Exposition" instead of continuing to promote it as a "Championship". The reason for this suggestion is that in addition to the two full days of competition for all Yu Gup Ja, Yu Dan Ja and Ko Dan Ja levels, the tournament that year included: a variety of seminars and clinics that were personally conducted by Grandmaster Ferraro and the highly accomplished members of the TAC; a special weapons seminar conducted by an Okinawan weapons Master Instructor; an unprecedented certificate and belt awards ceremony of recently promoted Ko Dan Ja; a special Mi Guk Kwan Hall of Fame inductee ceremony and barbeque dinner; business seminars and a special breakfast for studio owners; an annual Banquet which included outstanding traditional Korean entertainment; a variety of social activities for the children in attendance; the opportunity for everyone in attendance to meet Tang Soo Do practitioners (of all levels) from all over the country and around the world; and of course, ample opportunity to develop new relationships and to share in an incredible Tang Soo Do experience. And believe it or not, all those in attendance needed to do to benefit from these activities was "to just show up!"

Of course those members of the Mi Guk Kwan and other invitees, who didn't show up that year, will never really be able to fully comprehend and appreciate exactly what they missed. I, therefore, challenge all of those that are invited to be in attendance at this event when it is scheduled each year, to ensure that you not miss out on an opportunity to benefit from a Tang Soo Do experience that you will never be able to acquire or replicate anywhere else. If your current experience as a Tang Soo Do practitioner is currently limited to your involvement at the dojang where you train or in the region where you reside, then you are hindering yourself from being able to have a more complete Tang Soo Do training experience by not attending events such as this. And remember, "all you have to do is just show up!"

Finally, in recent years many Tang Soo Do instructors continue to report that it is becoming increasingly difficult to motivate students to attend tournaments or competitions that are sponsored annually by their association. I believe that the main reason for this is that many of today's adult students, as well as parents of our junior members, are not fully aware of all of the valuable rewards that can be gained simply by experiencing and being a participant of such an event. The primary reason for this is that we continue to promote this particular event as a "Championship" which implies that it is simply a tournament, and not everyone today wishes to be competitive or wants their child to be placed in a competitive environment.

However this annual and prestigious Mi Guk Kwan event has evolved tremendously over the years from simply being a championship to becoming a Tang Soo Do Exposition that affords its members additional opportunities for further development and tremendous growth that they would normally not be able to acquire anywhere else. It is up to all Tang Soo Do Mi Guk Kwan and Martial Way Association studio owners and instructors and also special invitees, therefore, to ensure that we get the word out to the students that, "all you have to do is show up! ............ Tang Soo!